Book tracing the 186 children who died in the Troubles launched

Children of the Troubles by Joe Duffy and Freya McClements launched in Dublin

Fifteen-year-old schoolboy James Kennedy was shot dead in a Belfast bookmaker's shop in February 1992. He was one of 186 children who lost their lives in the Troubles.

"James's father Jack Kennedy said afterwards that the bullets that killed James didn't just travel in distance, they travelled in time," Irish Times Northern Correspondent Freya McClements said on Wednesday evening.

“Some of those bullets, he said, never stopped travelling.”

It was a sentiment, she said, held my many similarly affected families, “that these bullets are still travelling”.


She was speaking at the launch of Children of the Troubles which she jointly wrote with RTÉ radio presenter Joe Duffy to document the lives of the youngest victims of the northern conflict.

Former president Mary McAleese, from Ardoyne in Belfast, launched the book with her own memories of the death of children in the Troubles, the circumstances of their murders often cloaked "in a tissue of lies".

“Fifty years of killing children. Children killed by paramilitaries, by uniformed police and army, by thugs, by so-called accident, by design, overlooked collateral damage,” she said.

The victims, she noted, hailed from all backgrounds, from the island of Ireland and Britain, and whose deaths were the product of a "catalogue of failures of adults".

More than 100 interviews were conducted for the book, mostly with relatives, many of whom attended the book’s launch.

Duffy tearfully recalled a number of the stories detailed in the pages and acknowledged the families’ role in telling them. A 50-year-old schoolbag, a wooden rattle and a pair of plimsolls were among the treasured possessions stored away and presented to the authors during interviews.

“We are deeply conscious that every single day of the year at least 10 families are marking the anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones because of the conflict,” he said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times